Thursday, December 16, 2010

Treasury Crazy

I don't know when Etsy changed their Treasury system so there isn't a mad dash to make one, but I'm having a great time making a few. Here I give you my favorite selection (or one of them, when I can't pick!) from the treasuries I've made over the last few weeks. And a link so you can enjoy the rest of them. Click the title for the treasury, the shop name or picture for the item

"Ornaments to Die For" Treasury:
I love Christmas ornaments, so I've chosen a few of my favorite handmade ones, including this hand painted ornament from Gwydion's Garden.

From my "Geek Out Your Christmas" Treasury comes this fun personalized photograph. It's not my favorite at My Magic Me's shop, so you should definitely check out the other options for a really unique gift there.

In my "Compost and Garden Daydreams" treasury I give you a few items to keep you gardeners over the winter... and growing your compost pile in the meantime! I adore this compost crock from KB Originals, etc.

Steel being one of my favorite materials, I created this "Man (or woman) of Steel" treasury, featuring this adorable yoga pose skeleton by Zed's Zombie Ranch (and there are several other amusing steel skeltons to be found in his shop)
And finally, I celebrate the spirit of Yule in my treasury "The Holly King and the Oak King", featuring this magnificent oak carved out of oak by Treewiz. Do check out the treasury, it was really hard to pick a favorite from this one.

There you have it, five items from five treasuries that I thoroughly enjoyed making. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Message of Faith, No Matter What Yours Is

I was inspired by a POEST chat last night to do a little feature on various holy days in December, so for each of the ones I can think of you get an Etsy item. Voila. From each of these days I hope to give you a message of the holiday that you can take with you for whatever celebration you choose.

First, Kwanzaa. For this holiday I give you a listing from which I learned something new. The Sankofa symbol in the Akan language of Ghana symbolizes a word that means "return and take it," meaning that we should take from the past the wisdom of our elders and predecessors. Here's the listing, a cup with this symbol by Dovecote Design:

For Hanukkah I chose a breathtaking papercut by Jewish Papercuts that bears the words in Yiddish (I assume, please excuse my ignorance) Yehi Shalom: May there be peace in your dwelling. May there, indeed, be peace in yours.

There are a lot of people clamoring to "Put Christ back in Christmas" and I hope I will not risk offending anyone when I say this: Put "Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men" back in Christmas. Anyway I adored this Christmas card from Sugar Tree Studio because of the peaceful image of the cardinal in the snowy tree, and the fact that you can add beautiful photos of your family to it, to send to everyone on your card list.

On December 22 the Hopi celebrate Soyaluna, which is a festival celebrating the return of the sun. It is also a time of saying prayers for the new year and wishing each other prosperity and Health. From Desert Rose Art Glass I present to you this lovely Kachina that seemed appropriate:

Solstice celebrations are almost as old as mankind, today celebrated by pagans, wiccans, Asatru, and countless others. From ancient solstice celebrations, and often from Yule in particular, nearly every holiday celebrated this month celebrates light in some manner. The tradition of the Yule log survived into Christmas celebrations and the meaning of burning this log all night long was hope: even in the darkest darkness there is light. Even if you don't have a fireplace you can adapt with this yule log candle holder by Cedar Candle Lights:

The fasting of Ramadan is (in part) to teach Muslims to remember the plight of those less fortunate, and in some places it is not unusual on Eid (the celebration at the end of the fast) to greet total strangers or give gifts to children you don't know. Arabic calligraphy is breathtaking and seems to lend itself to pictures... these earrings by Norouzi represent the word for peace, and resemble a dove:

Whatever your faith, I wish you peace, joy and love this holiday season, and upon all those you love.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Subtle Forms of Geekery

The past two weekends I took the helm of the USS Grand Caravan and headed into the unknown on an adventure to seek out strange new life and new civilizations. I discovered it. At a Renaissance Faire, and a Sci Fi convention.
I confess it: I am a nerd. The pic above is me at a Renfaire about three years ago, and yes, those are elf ears. What you, the uninitiated, may not know, is that there are subtleties in forms of geekery and, well, levels. As someone who plays roleplaying games two days a week, loves costuming and renfaires, makes chainmaille jewelry, has read the Silmarillion, and has more than a working trivia knowledge of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, I figure I am approximately a level seven geek. (I could make jokes here about my regular bathing and teeth brushing preventing further advancement, but I won't... well I guess I just did...).
Geeks have this funny way of measuring themselves against other nerds. Like, "Dude, I roleplay, but I won't LARP" (live action roleplaying, for those of you not in the know... basically, acting out the spellcasting and such). I dunno, does it make us feel like we still have one foot in the mainstream? I think that's the way most of us like it. We live in another world sometimes (literally), but we like to think we can seamlessly blend with the real one when we want to. And, we go to these events, cons and renfaires, and measure ourselves against the yardstick of the Epic Level Geek.
All of this occurred to me as I listened to a conversation (not the first one I've heard) about the relative merits of one superhero versus another, and about their supposed personal lives. I'm not a comic geek. Russ won't even send me web comics if they have panels, I don't get them. Some sort of mental block. But I guess I need to be standing on the outside of one of these subtleties of geekness to see what all of it looks like to the rest of you.
On the other hand, I suspect there are a whole lot of closet geeks (just past character creation, a n00b, a geekling) out there. Based on the number of people playing World of Warcraft. And the fact that Big Bang Theory seems to be such a huge hit -- could it be you're measuring your level of geekness as you're watching this show, too, the same way those of us who are out of the closet do at cons and faires?
If that's the case, I recommend you give in a little and enjoy it. Oh, I know if you show up at the next Renfaire and I'm standing there in costume, you'll probably do that little mental calculation and figure you're still mostly normal compared to me, and that's cool, cause we all do it (come on nerds, you KNOW you do...). But if we chat about the circlet I'm selling that you're thinking of buying to accessorize your new Renaissance dress, or we discuss the feasibility of time travel, or warp versus hyperdrives, or CG Yoda versus puppet Yoda (we are getting into higher levels here).... well, there's a moment of solidarity there, and it's good. There have been way too many fanboy movies over the past few years for you to deny the little geek in you. We know our own.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a new steampunk costume to plan.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Upcoming Exciting Events

We'll be at the following events:

June 5-6
Shakespeare and Friends Renaissance Festival, Rogersville TN

June 11-13
Sci Fi Summer Con, Atlanta GA

Also, besides Fragrant Mushroom Gallery, starting June 19 we'll have items for sale at Solstice Winds, a new metaphysical shop in Cookeville, TN, and A Rare Find, a gift shop also in Cookeville.

Hoping to revamp our website soon, as well. Hope you can make one of the above events or shops, we're excited about the future!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Use Your Heart



Every once in a while someone drops by and hearts my shop on Etsy. I try to visit all of these shops and sometimes find a treasure. This is one of them. Click the pictures to go look at these lil guys and then go to Triquimooches's shop and browse the other cute stuff.

Now, I should mention that I'm definitely not a plushie person. I have seen so many plushies on Etsy that I could gag, because so many of them are so ugly to me... I confess I wasn't much of a doll person as a kid, either (if you've been reading for a LONG time you'll have seen my rants about Barbie). I had a dollhouse when I was younger but I wanted no dolls because they usually sit in the chairs with their arms and legs sticking out at unnatural angles and ruin the tiny realistic effect. I had a gazillion stuffed animals but I really hated the ones that weren't at least relatively realistic looking (like the paisley frog someone gave me...). I know, it's kind of lame.

But I'm not completley immune to plushy cuteness. These guys are just adorable, and right up my alley (meaning, they're just geeky enough for me). Arthie would come to my house if I could afford him and I thought my dog wouldn't abscond with him if he ever had the chance... since I don't have fuzzy things that belong to me he naturally thinks they all belong to him -- I mean, steampunk squishy, how awesome is that!

Even if you don't adopt one of these awesome little dudes (she has really cute monsters, too), you should at least go look at Triquimooches' shop. And then go heart some stuff. You never know who will turn up.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count

Once again this year I'm participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Over the course of four days you count birds in your area so Audubon can get an idea of how many birds are in what habitates in what areas of the country. It's a lot of fun, visit the link to check it out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Buy Handmade, Buy Repurposed

Stop by Etsy and search "Upcycled" and "Repurposed" and you'll find some ingenious ways people have contributed to reducing landfill, reclaiming bits of Americana, and some brilliant creativity. Here are a few examples.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Directions

I've found a new love: deviantArt. The place is as addicting as Elfwood and Etsy were when I first found them. I've actually been there for 9 months now but haven't played with it much or posted much, till now. Check out my spot and friend me over there if you're a deviant.

As of February, I've hired two people, my son Brandon and Aaron from the local school's work program. Here's the plan: increase online presence, build stock for shows, revamp website, and refocus. My "mainstream" stuff (wire wrapping and simple chainmaille) is selling really well at Fragrant Mushroom Gallery and I'm thrilled - and it's also kept me busy enough that I've neglected my Etsy shop somewhat, and even sold a bunch of stuff I never got the chance to photograph (not a bad problem to have!).

But what I'd like to do this year is create more "geek chic" - Renaissance Faire items like the circlet above, hackey sacks, dice bags, keychains made from gaming dice, ear cuffs, etc. And I'd like to try to reach more niche markets like gaming cons, faerie cons, comic cons, anime cons, Renaissance faires, and the like. My stuff doesn't sell all that great at local craft fairs, partly because they're positively saturated with jewelry, but I want to try some new things this year, new designs. A new feel. And three heads are better than one. Second Renaissance will be more mainstream (and stuff will be listed, I've seriously neglected it because all the stock in it sold at the gallery!) but You've Got Maille is going hip. Oh and there should be a ton of new stuff in the Artfire shop very soon.

And, as always, I can't help myself experimenting with new media. I'm going to try some henna art/mehndi, some macrame, some wire sculpture, and when I can afford to, precious metal clay. Aaron does some leatherworking so there may be some maille/leather collaborations in my shop in the near future. So the short of it is, stay tuned to this spot for updates and news!

Here's a formal request for six more hours in a day, please, or at least a way to eliminate the need for sleep!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Artfire is Doing Right

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

I wasn't getting much out of my $7 a month at Artfire, back when I had an account for $7 a month. It's up to $12 now, and I'm seriously thinking of going back and putting more effort into my Artfire account as a Verified Seller. Here's why.

1) I love that I can customize my shop. But that's really kind of an aesthetic thing. I'm cruising around, though, and there's a blog available here, a detailed bio section... heck this could almost be my website. If I type a link in at Etsy, it's dead and the linkee has to paste it into a browser. That's lame, Etsy. Artfire even lets me link to my Etsy shop, if I want to.

2) Google Analytics isn't that difficult at Etsy, but it's a BREEZE at Artfire. You can click on your item in "My Studio Stats" and see exactly what search was typed in at Google, and exactly where your traffic is coming from, with no visit to Google Analytics' somewhat confusing site. I LOVE this. Why is this awesome? If you know what tags are bringing people to your shop, you can hone them to bring more traffic. If you know you have a lot of people coming from Twitter or your blog, you can put more effort into Twitter or your blog.

3) Oh my god, the help guides section! Okay, I don't have to be a paid user to use these, but I'm in love with the fact that there is SO much helpful information on marketing right there in that left column. You really need to go check them out if you sell online. I particularly recommend the Social Bookmarking guide and the Social Networking guide. It breaks down terms like SEO and really helps you figure out your strategy.

4) I'm starting to hear that some of my co-crafters are selling better there than they are on Etsy. That means that the traffic I wasn't getting over there, the reason I abandoned my paid account, is starting to show up. To be fair, I wasn't putting much into my Artfire shop then, so that had to have had a lot to do with it.

5) If I can get my production up, and I list 60 items a month, this account has already paid for itself in 20 cent Etsy listing fees, with no sales. No listing fees, no percentages of your sales going to anyone. Just you. Are you giving Etsy or eBay $12 a month?

6) Rapid cart makes it really easy and handy to sell on your own website or blog with hardly any fuss on the part of the buyer.

7) If I refer 10 people for paid accounts, my $12 monthly fee vanishes, and I am selling for absolutely free.

Which, of course, brings me to the plug: if you're NOT selling on Artfire, try it out with me by clicking the little picture at the top of this post, then get your friends to sign up so you can get it for free too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Internet Marketing Tips Survey

I'm doing an Internet Marketing for Crafters class at the local gallery, and I'm putting the call out to you, internet marketing crafters: I need ideas and tips on what's been the most effective marketing strategies. Fill out the survey HERE. If your survey is chosen as the most helpful you'll win a $25 gift card of your choice (just think... Olive Garden... Fire Mountain Gems... whatever you want).

As a secondary drawing I'm giving away a $20 gift certificate for my own shop, or custom work commissioned from me, for either blogging, tweeting, a mention in facebook or anywhere else, about the survey. For each of the above that you do, come back here and leave a SEPARATE comment for each (once if you tweet, once if you blog, etc.). I'll then do a random drawing from the comments here, so multiples will increase your chances. Check my shop for the goods, or Flickr for an idea of some of the custom work I can do. Please link to this blog post in your notifications, not to the survey itself.

Your deadline: January 23rd. Go to it! Thanks guys!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Classes this month

This month we'll be making a choker similar to this one in my "Chainmaille for Beginners" class at Fragrant Mushroom Gallery, 12 W Bockman Way, Sparta TN. Besides this, we'll be doing a variety of projects in a variety of weaves that cover the basics of chainmaille. I don't have an exact starting date but it will likely be Saturday mornings beginning toward the end of January (23rd or 30th). The class will be appropriate for ages 12 and up (adults will enjoy it too). The projects will be specific but there will be lots of options for customizing them the way you want them and suggestions for taking the weave a step further to make other things with it. Materials included in the fee, and you can sign up for one class or for all six weeks at a discount. If you're interested call Cherri at the Fragrant Mushroom at 866-836-8190 to sign up.

I'm also doing Internet Marketing for Crafters on Saturdays, after the maille class. This isn't an HTML class (since I know only pretty rudimentary web coding, and technology moves way faster than I can keep up with). Rather, we'll be discussing techniques for getting your work (whatever it is) seen on the web, basic photography on a budget, and selling through marketing sites like Etsy, or your own website. This is also a six-week class.

Stay tuned for pictures of all the projects and more info.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year's Kiss

Autumn Kiss Papercut by TinaTarnoff on Etsy
(which, by the way, is available as a pendant or greeting card, check out her awesome shop)

There are different types of New Year's Kisses. There are those "Hell I Just Need Someone to Kiss on New Year's" kisses, those "It's So Good To Finally Have Someone To Kiss" kisses. There are those passionate kisses of new relationships. And my favorite... this one has more to it than any other, "Thanks for hanging in there with me for another year and making it better than it would've been without you. Looking forward to this one and many more."

Which is what I got at the stroke of midnight (ok I think we were a little late) last night. Russ and I have had a really wonderful year, amidst most of my friends and family saying it was really a horrible one. But it's nice to know, good years and bad, he'll be there.

Happy New Year to my honey, and to everyone else: may this year be as good for you as the last one was for us. Or at the very least, a little better than last year.